The role of heat shock protein, microbial and autoimmune agents in the aetiology of Behçet's disease

Int Rev Immunol. 1997;14(1):21-32. doi: 10.3109/08830189709116842.


Investigation of the aetiology of Behçet's disease (BD) has focused predominantly on herpes simplex virus immunopathology, autoimmunity to oral mucosa or cross-reactive microbial antigens, and streptococcal infection. These aetiological factors might have a common denominator in microbial heat shock protein (HSP) which shows significant homology with the human mitochondrial HSP. Indeed, the uncommon serotypes of Streptococcus sanguis found in BD cross-react with the 65 kD HSP which also shares antigenicity with an oral mucosal antigen. T cell epitope mapping has identified 4 peptides derived from the sequence of the 65 kD HSP which stimulate specifically TCR gamma delta + lymphocytes from patients with BD. These peptides (111-125, 154-172, 219-233 and 311-325) show significant homology with the corresponding peptides derived from the human 60 kD HSP. The specific proliferative response of TCR gamma delta + lymphocytes elicited by the 4 peptides can be used as a laboratory test for the diagnosis of BD. The pathogenic significance of these peptides has been established by inducing uveitis in rats.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Autoimmunity
  • Behcet Syndrome / etiology*
  • Behcet Syndrome / immunology
  • Behcet Syndrome / microbiology
  • Cross Reactions
  • Epitope Mapping
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / genetics
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / immunology*
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / toxicity
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / genetics
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / immunology
  • Rats
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Simplexvirus / pathogenicity
  • Streptococcus / genetics
  • Streptococcus / immunology
  • Streptococcus / pathogenicity
  • Uveitis / etiology


  • Heat-Shock Proteins